Finally — and long overdue — school lunches are morphing into meals I might actually let my children eat. Too bad it didn’t happen while they were actually in public schools. The absolute junk served during those years meant my kids brought their lunches.
What kids eat matters — today and in the long term. That’s why I don’t get the fight about improving school lunches. Oh, I get that conglomerates care more about profits than health. That’s obvious. I get that lunch administrators have tight budgets. I also get that many, many “nutrition” spokespeople and lobbyists care more about money than about the serious weight issues and accompanying health problems facing our nation.
I also get that many families rely on school food plans to feed their children. Which is why I don’t think the new food standards go far enough.
We had food battles in our household. One picky eater in particular. It was a power struggle. That’s what’s happening with all the anti-nutrition lobbying going on now.
I finally bought a book called “How to Get your Kid to Eat — But Not Too Much” — a practical approach that could and would benefit those involved in this current food fight.
The basic premise: Flexibility — with limited, controlled choices. At dinner the questions become:
- Do you want peas or carrots?
- Do you want them here or there on your plate?
For lunch it would be:
- Apple slices — with or without peanut butter?
- Turkey, ham or PB&J sandwiches (on whole wheat bread)
- Yogurt, cheese stick
- Milk box (freeze overnight), V8 or water
If children in New Mexico want salsa on their green beans — go for it. If kids in New Hampshire want peas and carrots mixed together — do it. That’s regional differences. The default option shouldn’t be refried beans cooked with lard or greasy french fries.
I’m not a food fanatic. My kids ate cookies, cake, candy — as treats — not as a main meal. They ate, and still eat, fast food sometimes. At one point, they came back and said they’d bought Spaghetti O’s — then thanked me for refusing to buy that crap for them when they were little.
So hang in there parents, nutritionists, dedicated food workers! Kids will adapt … the obesity rate is already slowing. Food is fuel — it should taste good and be good for you.